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Resourceful Designer: Strategies for running a graphic design business

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Resourceful Designer: Strategies for running a graphic design business
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Dec 17, 2015

50 Questions To Ask Before Every New Design Project

What makes you stand out as a graphic designer amongst the many "contest" sites that are springing up, is your ability to converse in detail and ask questions of your clients before every new design project. By asking questions you not only show that you are a professional, you also inspire confidence in your client. Questions put them at ease and let them know that you are viewing their design project seriously. By putting your clients at ease and bestowing the confidence in them that they've chosen the right person for the job, you also show them that you are worth every cent you are charging them.

In this week's Resourceful Designer I'm covering 50 questions you can ask whenever you're faced with a new design project.

I don't expect you to ask all of these questions. But pick and choose the ones right for your design project, and in the process come up with questions of your own.

Remember, no design project ever failed because the designer knew too much about the company that's hiring them.

I've decided the questions into five sections.

  1. Questions about the company hiring you for a design project
  2. Questions about the company's target audience
  3. Questions about the company's brand
  4. Questions about the company's design preferences
  5. Questions about the design project's scale, timeframe and budget

To facilitate the conversation I'm using "company" as a global replacement for the client. The same questions can be asked of individuals, service clubs, organizations, charities, events, etc.

Questions about the company hiring you for a design project.

  1. What is the name of your company?
  2. Can you describe what your company does?
  3. What services or products do your company produce?
  4. How long have you been in business?
  5. Why was this company started?
  6. How big is the company?
  7. Are you a local, national or international company?
  8. Who is your competition?
  9. How are you different from your competition?
  10. How are your competitors marketing themselves?
  11. What are the long term goals of your company?
  12. Can you describe your company's strengths?
  13. Can you describe your company's weaknesses?

Questions about the company's target audience

  1. Can you identify and describe your target audience? (Age, gender, social class, location)
  2. Are you focusing just on this market or are you trying to hit other markets as well?
  3. How do you think your target audience describes your company?
  4. How does your target audience currently discover your company?
  5. How do you connect with your target audience?

Questions about the company's brand

  1. Does your company use a specific colour palette?
  2. Are there any design elements associated with your company? (fonts, icons, images, etc.)
  3. Does your company have a mission statement?
  4. What current and pass marketing material have you used?
  5. What did you like or dislike about your past marketing material?
  6. Why are you looking for something new?
  7. Do you have a company slogan?
  8. What feedback have you received on your past marketing material?
  9. Do you consider your brand material to be more traditional or modern?
  10. Is your brand associated with high end or cost-effective products and services?
  11. What would you like your target audience to think of when they see your marketing material?

Questions about the company's design preferences

  1. What colour palettes do you prefer?
  2. Will this project be used in print, on the web, etc.
  3. Is there anything from your past marketing material that you want incorporated into the new project?
  4. Are there any restrictions or limitations to consider when designing this project?
  5. Are there any new design elements you would like to try in this project?
  6. Are there any design styles you do not like?

Questions about the design project's scale, timeframe and budget

  1. Do you have a budget for this project?
  2. How many different concepts would you like to see?
  3. What material will you be providing me for this project?
  4. Are there any deadlines associated with this design project? (Are these preferable or firm deadlines?)
  5. Who will be my primary contact on this project?
  6. Who is involved in the approval process?
  7. Are there any third parties involved in this design project?
  8. Who will be dealing with involved third parties?
  9. What services are you expecting from me?
  10. What do you expect from me regarding this design project?
  11. What material do you require from me at the completion of this design project?
  12. Is there anything else you would like to discuss that we haven't already covered?

Bonus Questions

  1. Are there any other design projects I can help you with?
  2. Is there anything I asked you about that you need help with?
  3. Do you know anyone else that may require my services?

And finally...

The last questions you should always ask, When do you want me to get started on this design project?

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Design Resource

This week's resource is PDFpen. A Mac only software used to sign, fill out, correct, complete, edit and alter PDF files. I've been using PDFPen for several months now and it has quickly become my go to software whenever I need to work with PDFs. Keep and eye out as PDFpen is often included in software bundles or at a reduced price on it's own.

I want to help you.

Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com

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